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New NAFTA terms put hold on Canadian drug prices

Published on 11/12/19 at 12:51pm

NAFTA members have agreed to remove a provision that would have increased protections on biologics drugs.

This means Canada, despite agreeing with the previous increase, will instead keep its existing eight years of exclusivity for the drugs before the generic version can enter the market.

If the provision was kept in, it would have added significant costs to the healthcare system and to private drug plans.

Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer said back in April that extra protection would have cost at least $169 million in the first year, and costs would have risen and increased from there.

Jim Keon, President of the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association, said the news was an “important win for the Canadian healthcare system and patients’ access to affordable prescription medicines. The generic and biosimilar medicines industries are strong supporters of trade and the elimination of barriers to trade.”

The new terms came after Democrats in the US scaled back some protections for Big Pharma, including this ten-year rule. 

However, the removal of this provision has frustrated Big Pharma. The Innovative Medicines Canada, the group representing major pharmaceutical companies in the country, did not welcome the news. The Association’s President Pamela Fralick said: “This is disappointing news for Canada’s innovative pharmaceutical industry, which is already facing significant challenges.”

The companies fear that the high cost of research with lower protection could hurt investment in Canada’s pharmaceutical sector and could eat into shareholders profits.

Conor Kavanagh

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